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Daniel Day-Lewis spoke with poet, Eileen Myles in this 2002 interview. Photography by Terry Richardson.
 

Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.



Kathleen Hanna discusses writing and making music in this interview from 2000 with Laurie Weeks.


Isabella Rossellini spoke with Peter Halley in this 1999 interview.


Check out our interview with Crispin Glover by Richard Kern from 2000.
Alexander McQueen's 2003 interview with Bjork.
 
  JERRY HALL
STEPHANIE SEYMORE
MARC JACOBS
  ASIA ARGENTO
DENNIS HOPPER
ABEL FERRARA
BRIAN WILSON
WILL OLDHAM
DJ SPOOKY



Kimberly Peirce, 2001
WITH TAMARA JENKINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY LEETA HARDING
Kimberly Peirce, director of the breakout hit Boys Don’t Cry, talks with friend and fellow director, Tamara Jenkins, about her wayward youth, her classified next film, and her search for the perfect moment.

TAMARA: Are you allowed to say anything about your new project?
KIM: It’s a film about a real murder that was never solved. My cowriter, Andy Bienen, and I figured out who did it, how they did it, and how and why it was covered up by the concentric circles of people around the killer.
TAMARA: Wait. You solved the crime?
KIM: Well, Andy and I researched for about seven months. By the time we were done, we were very certain that we were right. We went through all these archives — including the papers of one guy who was very high up in the conspiracy who had burned a lot of his papers.
TAMARA: Whose archives were you looking at?
KIM: Many of the people involved were on the national stage, so their archives were part of the public record. And at the time of the murder, the public’s imagination was very invested in this case.
TAMARA: Wow.
KIM: Here were all these people who were accustomed to putting down every detail in their records. And yet when you get to this particular case, there’s nothing. The documents have simply been destroyed. But through the research, Andy and I came to understand how some of these people wrote about other cases, and we began to get a sense of each of their characters — “Oh, this is how so-and-so would have handled this case.” Norman Mailer talks about this phenomenon in Executioner’s Song — “You begin to understand the lies.”
TAMARA: So you actually caught some of the surrounding characters in lies?
KIM: Absolutely. One person would tell a story. Another person would contradict the first person’s version. You interview the first person again, and they change their story. It’s just like when your friends lie — you know how to read their half-truths.
TAMARA: Do you and Andy spend most of your time together on the phone, or do you collaborate in person?
KIM: On the phone! We cannot be anywhere near one another when we’re working. We’d kill each other.
TAMARA: You don’t lie around an office like Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond?
KIM: No, no. I think we’re in a different era. It’s better for him to be at his house in front of his computer, and for me to be at my house in front of mine. I wear a headset, and it’s like we’re talking all day long in each other’s ear. We’re in each other’s presence when we’re on the phone. I walk around, I go out on my deck — and I’m with Andy. It’s very stream of consciousness.
TAMARA: Do you argue much, even on the phone?
KIM: It’s interesting. We’ve noticed that we always start fighting the day before we have to write a scene where our characters argue.
TAMARA: You guys are like an old married couple. It’s hilarious.
KIM: Yesterday we were not getting along. It was a bad day. At one point Andy was like, “I think I hate you too much right now to write this scene.” [laughs] And then I realized, “I think that’s actually what this scene’s about.” So we went ahead with the scene, and it came out really well. We hadn’t been able to capture the conflict until we had a huge fight ourselves. The best is when we actually take on the characters’ traits — I’m all for it.
TAMARA: So it sounds like you and Andy are creating a sort of docudrama. I don’t mean a cheesy movie-of-the-week docudrama, but a docudrama of the highest order.
KIM: Well, the story comes out of reality, but hopefully we’re finding a deeper emotional truth that is more mythical or symbolic. My inspiration would be something like what Shakespeare did with Romeo and Juliet. There were tons of different versions of that story out there when Shakespeare took it on and made it work — “Oh, change this, move that, and then you’ll have a real story.”
TAMARA: There’s always a certain power and structural clarity to the truth.
KIM: What’s so beautiful in this case is that the characters created the event just as much as the event created the characters. I don’t know how to put it any more simply than that. Elia Kazan’s beautiful with that kind of stuff — the way he creates an overarching superstructure, and the way he feels the inner nature of his characters. His films always convey an organic unity — you know, On the Waterfront, East of Eden.
TAMARA: Your first film, “Boys Don’t Cry”, was also based on a true crime story. It’s interesting that so far, your source material is always documentary.
KIM: Yeah, I don’t know where that comes from. Although originally, I thought I wanted to be a photojournalist.
TAMARA: Really? So you had a documentary impulse.
KIM: Well, I thought I’d be a photographer and travel around like the Capra boys — just cover war and all kinds of stuff. And I tried to do it. I quit college when I was eighteen because my parents wouldn’t sign off on my financial aid, and I went to Japan. I lived in Kobe and I had a darkroom in Kyoto and I traveled all over the country. I went to Korea and Hong Kong.
TAMARA: How did you earn money in Japan? Were you teaching English?
KIM: Actually, because I had blond hair I could model as the girl next door. I was eighteen years old, and three hundred dollars a day was a lot of money.
TAMARA: Were you modeling for catalogues?
KIM: Actually, I never knew where the pictures ended up. One time, the agency was looking for a girl from Spain. I was like, “Well, that’s not me.” And they said, “No, you seem Spanish.” So I wore a banner that said “Spain” in Japanese.
TAMARA: I want to see those pictures!
KIM: And then I taught English to Japanese mafia lawyers. That was wild. These were guys who represented monks who’d gotten in trouble for tax evasion. They already spoke some English, and they’d say, “Read J.D. Salinger to us.”
TAMARA: What finally brought you back?
KIM: At the end of two years, having traveled all over Asia, and having gotten into a Japanese university, I thought I’d never come back. And then I had one of those fateful moments. I had a yearlong ticket on Korean Airlines that I thought had run out. But the airline called and said, “We have one seat, and your ticket’s about to expire.” And all of a sudden, I realized, “Oh, I’m American. I want to go back.” So I went to my bank and withdrew ten thousand dollars at once, which you can do in Japan. I put the money in my sock and flew home with it. I used that money to finish college.
TAMARA: But what made you decide that you wanted to become a filmmaker instead of a photojournalist once you got back?
KIM: Well, photography didn’t feel like enough anymore. I needed narrative movement. I wanted to be able to build emotional structures. I wanted something that could match my interests and my enthusiasm — because I had been set on fire by the world, in a way. I mean, I had just traveled all through Thailand looking for the perfect moment, which I finally experienced.
TAMARA: The perfect moment. What was it?
KIM: I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t even know if it could exist, but I felt that I was on the verge of it. I was racing around Thailand on a motorcycle, out by the Golden Triangle.
TAMARA: What’s that?
KIM: It’s where all the drugs come into the country. And there was a guy named Kuhn Sah, who was the big drug lord. And my dad was a drug dealer too, so I thought, “Oh, I need to find Kuhn Sah because he’s like dad.” [laughs] So I was on my motorcycle driving fast. And cars drive on the other side of the road in Thailand.
TAMARA: Oh no.
KIM: Yeah — I was slowing down for a curve on the wrong side of the road and a truck came around heading straight for me. I turned the bike and crashed. I went flying over the top — I got completely bloodied up. Then the truck stopped and the driver, a farmer, picked me up. He didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t really speak Thai. He took me to a border hospital, and this place was like the Fourth World, not even the Third World. I was in and out of consciousness, and they brought me into a room and laid me down, and I just started screaming, “Fuck!”
TAMARA: Because you were in so much pain?
KIM: Yeah, it was terrible. There was a twelve-year-old girl who had a hook for a needle, and she was stitching me up with no anesthesia. And then I looked over and saw that doctors were putting a guy’s finger back on. The girl motioned to me that he had been clearing the fields with a machete and had taken his own thumb off. And he was sitting there utterly peaceful.
TAMARA: She was pointing to him as a good example?
KIM: A good example of how to shut up. So I looked at him and all of a sudden I realized, “This is severe pain. Just go ahead and feel it, because it will go away.” I laid back and let her sew me up, and I didn’t scream any more.
TAMARA: Wait. This was the perfect moment?
KIM: No, no.
TAMARA: How much torture does one have to go through to get to the perfect moment?
KIM: It’s coming, it’s coming. I had been traveling with friends, and we had plans to go down south. So the doctors gave me painkillers, and they wired me up, and I got on a bus that had the coldest air conditioning I ever felt in my life. They were playing Death Wish III on these little televisions on the bus, and Charles Bronson was screaming, and I was completely out of it. Finally, we made it down to the beach. I couldn’t go swimming because I couldn’t get wet. I was living on a cot. Eventually I healed enough to walk around, and we went to a place that was three islands away from Thailand. And there I was on a cliff, watching the sun plunge down into the water. There was nobody around for islands and islands. And all of a sudden, there it was. “Oh, my God, I think it’s the moment.”
TAMARA: Being in this beautiful place.
KIM: Being anonymous and not caring about anything. And it was the first time I put my camera down. I did not photograph it. The only recording was in my mind — “I have been here, my eyes have seen this.” The moment presented itself, and then it was gone.
TAMARA: And this is what caused you to give up photography?
KIM: Well, I came back to the States and I’d had my moment. I had my ten thousand dollars, and I finished school. And everybody at the University of Chicago was going to grad school and becoming a professor. And one day I looked at Lauren Berlant, my professor, and I said, “I’m not a photojournalist. I’m not an English professor.” I knew what I wasn’t, and I kind of knew bits and pieces of what I was. I was at a loss. And she was so smart. She looked at me, and she said, “You really want to be a movie maker.”



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